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the plain above, a young girl met them, who looked at them in rather a strange way. She had a fair, pretty, wondering face, with singularly high eyebrows, and clear, light blue eyes.
“How are you, Eilean ?” said Mackenzie, as he passed on with Ingram.
But Sheila, on making the same inquiry, shook hands with the girl, who smiled in a confidential way, and, coming quite close, nodded, and pointed down to the water's edge.
"Have you seen them to-day, Eilean ?” said Sheila, still holding the girl by the hands, and looking at the fair, pretty, strange face.
“It wass sa day before yesterday,” she answered, in a whisper, while a pleased smile appeared on her face, “and sey will be here sa night.”
“Good-bye, Eilean ; take care you don't stay out at night and catch cold, you know,” said Sheila; and then, with another little nod and a smile, the young girl went down the path.
" It is Eilean-of-the-Ghosts, as they call her,” said Sheila to Lavender as they went on; "the poor thing fancies she sees little people about the rocks, and watches for them. But she is very good and quiet, and she is not afraid of them, and she does no harın to anyone. She does not belong to the Lewis ; I think she is from Jura ; but she sometimes comes to pay us a visit at Borva, and my papa is very kind to her.”
* Mr. Ingram does not appear to know her : I thought he was acquainted with everyone in the island," said Lavender
“She was not here when he has been in the Lewis before,” said Sheila; “but Eilean does not like to speak to strangers, and I do not think you could get her to speak to you if you tried.”
Lavender had paid but little attention to the “ false men” of Callernish when first he saw them; but now heapproached the long lines of big stones up on this lonely plateau with a new interest. For Sheila had talked to him about them many a time in Borva ; and had asked his opinion about their origin and their age. Was the central circle of stones an altar, with the other series marking the
approaches to it? Or was it the grave of some great chieftain, with the remaining stones indicating the graves of his relations and friends ? Or was it the commemoration of some battle in olden times, or the record of astronomical or geometrical discoveries, or a temple once devoted to serpent-worship, or what? Lavender, who knew absolutely nothing at all about the matter, was probably as well qualified as anybody else to answer those questions ; but he forbore. The interest, however, that Sheila showed in such things he very rapidly acquired. When he came to see the rows of stones a second time, he was much impressed by their position on this bit of hill overlooking the sea. He sat down on his camp stool with the determination that, although he could not satisfy Sheila's wistful questions, he would present, her with some little sketch of these monuments and their surroundings, which might catch up something of the mysterious loneliness of the scene.
He would not, of course, have the picture as it then presented itself. The sun was glowing on the grass around him, and lighting up the tall grey pillars of stone with a cheerful radiance. Over there the waters of Loch Roag were bright and blue; and beyond the lake the undulations of moorland were green and beautiful, and the mountains in the south grown pale as silver in the heat. Here was a pretty young lady, in a rough blue travelling dress, and a hat and feather, who was engaged in picking up wild flowers from the warm heath. There was a gentleman from the office of the Board of Trade, who was sitting on the grass, nursing his knees, and whistling. From time to time the chief figure in the foreground was an elderly gentleman, who evidently expected that he was going to be put into the picture, and who was occasionally dropping a cautious hint that he did not always wear this rough-and-ready sailor's costume. Mackenzie was also most anxious to point out to the artist the names of the hills and districts lying to the south of Loch Roag ; apparently with the hope
that the sketch would have a certain topographical interest for future visitors.
No; Lavender was content at that moment to take down the outlines of the great stones, and the configuration of lake and hill beyond ; but, by and by, he would give another sort of atmosphere to this wild scene. He would have rain and darkness spread over the island, with the low hills in the south grown desolate and remote, and the waters of the sea covered with gloom. No human figure should be visible on this remote plain, where these strange memorials had stood for centuries, exposed to western gales, and the stillness of the winter nights, and the awful silence of the stars. Would not Sheila, at least, understand the bleakness and desolation of the picture ? Of course her father would like to have everything blue and green. He seemed a little disappointed when it was clear that no distant glimpse of Borva could be introduced into the sketch. But Sheila's imagination would be captured by this sombre picture ; and perhaps, by and by, in some other land, amid fairer scenes and in a more generous climate, she might be less inclined to hunger for the dark and melancholy North when she looked on this record of its gloom and its sadness.
“Iss he going to put any people in the pictures ?” said Mackenzie, in a confidential whisper to Ingram.
Ingram got up from the grass, and said, with a yawn
"I don't know. If he does, it will be afterwards. Suppose we go along to the waggonette, and see if Duncan has brought everything up from the boat?”
The old man seemed rather unwilling to be cut out of this particular sketch, but he went, nevertheless; and Sheila, seeing Mr. Lavender left alone, and thinking that not quite fair, went over to him, and asked if she might be per mitted to see as much as he had done.
Lavender shut up the book.
“No," he said with a laugh, "you shall see it to-night. I have sufficient memoranda to work something out of it
by and by. Shall we have another look at the circle up there ?”
He folded up and shouldered his camp-stool, and they walked to the point at which the long lines of the “mourners” converged. Perhaps he was moved by a great antiquarian curiosity; at all events, he showed a singular interest in the monuments, and talked to his companion about all the possible theories connected with such stones in a fashion that charmed her greatly. She was easily persuaded that the Callernish “ Fir-Bhreige” were the most interesting relics in the world. He had seen Stonehenge, but Stonehenge was too scattered to be impressive. There was more mystery about the means by which the inhabitants of a smail island could have hewn, and carved, and erected these blocks; there was, moreover, the mystery about the vanished population itself. Yes, he had been to Carnac also. He had driven down from Auray in a rumbling old trap, his coachman being unable to talk French. He had seen the half-cultivated plain on which there were rows and rows of small stones, scarcely to be distinguished from the stone walls of the adjoining farms. What was there impressive about such a sight, when you went into a house and paid a franc to be shown the gold ornaments picked up about the place ? Here, however, was a perfect series of those strange memorials, with the long lanes leading up to a circle, and the tallest of all the stones placed on the western side of the circle, perhaps as the head-stone of the buried chief. Look at the position, too—the silent hill, the waters of the sea-loch around it, and beyond that the desolation of miles of untenanted moorland. Sheila seemed pleased that her companion, after coming so far, should have found something worth looking at in the Lewis.
“Does it not seem strange,” he said, suddenly, “to think of young folks of the present day picking up wild-flowers from among those old stones ?”.
He was looking at a tiny bouquet which she had gathered.
“Will you take them ?" she said, Sheila-only, not before other people, quite simply and naturally offering him perhaps— " the flowers. “They may remind you “But why not ?" she said, with her some time of Callernish."
eyebrows just raised a little. “Why He took the flowers, and regarded should you wish to call me Sheila at one them for a moment in silence; and then time and not at the other? It is no he said, gently
difference whatever—and everyone calls "I do not think I shall want these to me Sheila." remind me of Callernish. I shall never Lavender was a little disappointed. forget our being here."
He had hoped, when she consented in At this moment, perhaps fortunately so friendly a manner to his calling her -Duncan appeared, and came along to by any name he chose, that he could wards the young people with a basket have established this little arrangement, in his hand.
which would have had about it some" It wass Mr. Mackenzie will ask if thing of the nature of a personal confiye will tek a glass o' whiskey, sir, and dence. Sheila would evidently have a bit o' bread and cheese. And he wass none of that. Was it that she was really sayin there wass no hurry at all, and he so simple and frank in her ways that will wait for you for two hours, or half she did not understand why there should an hour whatever."
be such a difference, and what it might "All right, Duncan; go back and imply; or was she well aware of everytell him I have finished, and we shall thing he had been wishing, and able to be there directly. No, thank you, don't assume this air of simplicity and ignotake out the whiskey-unless, Miss rance with a perfect grace ? Ingram, he reMackenzie,” added the young man, flected, would have said at once that to with a smile, “Duncan can persuade suspect Sheila of such duplicity was to you."
insult her, but then Ingram was perhaps Duncan looked with amazement at himself a trifle too easily imposed on, the man who dared to joke about Miss and he had notions about women-deSheila taking whiskey; and, without spite all his philosophical reading and waiting for any further commands, in such like—that a little more mingling dignantly shut the lid of the basket, and in society might have caused him to alter. walked off.
Frank Lavender confessed to himself "I wonder, Miss Mackenzie," said that Sheila was either a miracle of disLavender, as they went along the path ingenuousness or a thorough mistress of and down the hill, “I wonder what you the art of assuming it. On the one would say if I happened to call you hand, he considered it almost impossible Sheila by mistake."
for a woman to be so disingenuous; on “I should be glad if you did that. the other hand, how could this girl Everyone calls me Sheila," said the have taught herself, in the solitude of a girl, quietly enough.
savage island, a species of histrionicism "You would not be vexed ? " he said, which women in London circles strove for regarding her with a little surprise. years to acquire and rarely acquired in
“No, why should I be vexed ?" she any perfection? At all events, he said answered, and she happened to look up, to himself, while he reserved his opinion and he saw what a clear light of sincerity on this point, he was not going to call there was shining in her eyes.
Sheila Sheila before folks who would “May I then call you Sheila ?” know what that meant. Mr. Mac* Yes."
kenzie was evidently a most irascible old “But-but,” he said, with a timi. gentleman. Goodness only knew what dity and embarrassment of which she sort of law prevailed in these wild parts ; showed no trace whatever, “but people and to be seized at midnight by a couple might think it strange, you know—and of brawny fishermen-to be carried down yet I should greatly like to call you to a projecting ledge of rock -- ! Had
No. 163.-TOL. XXVIII.
not Ingram already hinted that Mackenzie would straightway throw into Loch Roag the man who should offer to carry away Sheila from him ?
But how could these doubts of Sheila's sincerity last? He sat opposite her in the waggonette, and the perfect truth of her face, of her frank eyes, and of her ready smile met him at every moment, whether he talked to her, or to Ingram, or listened to old Mackenzie, who turned from time to time from the driving of the horses to inform the stranger of what he saw around him. It was the most brilliant of morninys. The sun burned on the white road, on the green moorland, on the grey-lichened rocks with their crimson patches of heather. As they drove by the curious convolutions of this rugged coast, the sea that lay beyond these recurring bays and points was of a windy green, with here and there a streak of white, and the fresh breeze blowing across to them tempered the fierce heat of the sun. How cool, too, were those little freshwater lakes they passed—the clear blue and white of them stirred into wavelets that moved the reeds and left air-bubbles about the half-submerged stones. Were not these wild geese over there, flapping in the water with their huge wings, and taking no notice of the passing strangers ? Lavender had never seen this lonely coast in times of gloom, with those little lakes become sombre pools, and the outline of the rocks beyond lost in the driving mist of the sea and the rain. It was altogether a bright and beautiful world he had got into, and there was in it but one woman, beautiful beyond his dreams. To doubt her, was to doubt all women. When he looked at her he forgot the caution, and distrust, and sardonic self-complacency his southern training bad given him. He believed ; and the world seemed to be filled with a new light.
“That is Loch-na-muil'ne,” Mackenzie was saying, " and it iss the Loch of the Mill; and over there that is Loch-aBhaile, and that iss the Loch of the Town; but where iss the loch and the town now? It wass many hundreds of
years before there will be numbers of people in this place, and you will come to Dun Charlobhaidh, which is a great castle, by and by. And what wass it will drive away the people, and leave the land to the moss, but that there wass no one to look after them ? When the natives will leave Islay, farewell to the peace of Scotland'-that iss a good proverb. And if they have no one to mind them, they will go away altogether. And there is no people more obedient than the people of the Highlands—not anywhere; for you know that we say, 'Is it the truth, as if you were speaking before kings ?' And now there is the castle--and there wass many people living here when they could build that."
It was, in truth, one of those circular forts, the date of which has given rise to endless conjecture and discussion. Perched up on a hill, it overlooked a number of deep and narrow valleys, that ran landward; while the other side of the hill sloped down to the sea-shore. It was a striking object, this tumbling mass of dark stones standing high over the green hollows, and over the light plain of the sea. Was there not here material for another sketch for Sheila? While Lavender had gone away over the heights and hollows to choose his point of view, a rough and ready luncheon had been spread out in the waggonette; and when he returned, perspiring and considerably blown, he found old Mackenzie measuring out equal portions of peat-water and whiskey, Duncan flicking the enormous “clegs " from off the horses' necks, Ingram trying to per snade Sheila to have some sherry out of a flask he carried, and every body in very good spirits over such an exciting event as a roadside luncheon on a summer forenoon.
The King of Borya had by this time become excellent friends with the young stranger who had ventured into his dominions. When the old gentleman had sufficiently inpressed on everybody that he had observed all necessary precaution in studying the character and inquiring into the antecedents of Lavender,
he could not help confessing to a sense of lightness and vivacity that the young man seemed to bring with him and shed around him. Nor was this matter of the sketches the only thing that had particularly recommended Lavender to the old man. Mackenzie had a most distinct dislike to Gaelic songs. He could not bear the monotonous melancholy of them. When Sheila, sitting by herself, would sing these strange old ballads of an evening, he would suddenly enter the room, probably find her eyes filled with tears, and then he would in his inmost heart devote the whole of Gaelic minstrelsy and all its authors to the infernal gods. Why should people be for ever saddening themselves with the stories of other folks' misfortunes ? It was bad enough for those poor people; but they had borne their sorrows, and died, and were at peace. Surely it was better that we should have songs about ourselves-drinking or fighting, if you like, to keep up the spirits—to lighten the serious cares of life, and drown for a while the responsibility of looking after a whole population of poor, halfignorant, unphiloscphical creatures.
“Look, now," he would say, speaking of his own tongue, “ look at this teffle of a language! It has no present tense to its verbs—the people they are always looking forward to a melancholy future, or looking back to a melancholy past. In the name of Kott, hef we not got ourselves to live? This day we live in is better than any day that wass before or iss to come, bekass it is here, and we are alive. And I will hef no more of these songs about crying, and crying, and crying!”
Now Sheila and Lavender, in their mutual musical confidences, had at an early period discovered that each of them knew something of the older Eng. lish duets, and forthwith they tried a few of them, to Mackenzie's extreme delight. Here, at last, was a sort of music he could understand-none of your moanings of widows, and cries of luckless girls to the sea—but good common-sense songs, in which the lads kissed the lasses with a will, and had a
good drink afterwards, and a dance on the green on their homeward way. There was fun in those happy May-fields, and good health and briskness in the alehouse choruses, and throughout them all a prevailing cheerfulness and contentment with the conditions of life certain to recommend itself to the contemplative mind. Mackenzie never tired of hearing those simple ditties. He grew confidential. with the young man ; and told him that those fine, common sense songs recalled pleasant scenes to him. He himself knew something of English village-life. When he had been up to see the Great Exhibition, he had gone to visit a friend living in Brighton, and he had surveyed the country with an observant eye. He had remarked several village-greens, with the May-poles standing here and there in front of the cottages, emblazoned with beautiful banners. He had, it is true, fancied that the Maypole should be in the centre of the green; but the manner in which the waves of population swept here and there, swallowing up open spaces and so forth, would account to a philosophical person for the fact that the May-poles were now close to the village-shops.
“Drink to me only with thine eyes," hummed the King of Borva to himself, as he sent the two little horses along the coast-road on this warm summer day. He had heard the song for the first time on the previous evening; he had no voice to speak of; he had missed the air, and these were all the words he remembered ; but it was a notable compliment all the same to the young man who had brought these pleasant tunes to the island. And so they drove on through the keen salt air, with the sea shining beside them, and the sky shining over them ; and in the afternoon they arrived at the small, remote, and solitary inn of Barvas, placed near the confluence of several rivers that flow through Loch Barvas, or Barabhas, to the sea. Here they proposed to stop the night; so Lavender, when his room had been assigned to him, begged to be left alone for an hour or two, that he might throw a little colour into his sketch of Callernish.